COP26 President Alok Sharma visits India, talks India-UK 2030 Roadmap prior to climate summit


British-Indian and president of COP26 Alok Sharma had come to India on a three-day visit and held discussions with senior Indian ministers and leaders from industry and civil society regards to the upcoming climate summit in November that is to happen in Scotland.

India is seen as critical to a world leader who will be attending the summit to agree on critical climate action targets.

Agra-born Alok Sharma arrived in New Delhi on a three-day visit starting on Monday, August 16.

It is expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the flagship event, scheduled between November 1 and 12.

In his meetings with key climate stakeholders, Sharma highlighted how India can play an important role at the summit.

“India has a vital role to play as the world comes together in Glasgow to demonstrate renewed action under the Paris Agreement,” said Sharma.

“India’s leadership – including through the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure – is hugely important as we look to build global resilience ahead of COP26 and beyond. All countries – including the UK and India – have a historic opportunity to build back greener from the COVID pandemic,” the 53-year-old minister said.

This comes as the UK calls on all G20 countries to sign up to net zero, set out clear plans to cut emissions by 2030, and commit to ending coal power, transitioning to electric vehicles, and restoring nature, with the richest nations providing financial support to the rest of the planet to go green.

The UK and India are already working closely together including research and innovation for a clean energy transition and to improve global resilience – through the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and the Green Growth Equity Fund.

According to IANS, on the last day of his visit, Sharma met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav apart from speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) National Council Session. He also launched the GreenCellM, an e-bus.

Yadav and Sharma discussed issues relating to climate change, COP26 (COP26 or the Conference of Parties ) India-UK 2030 Roadmap, and other related matters.

“India believes that climate actions must be nationally determined and it strongly advocates that the differentiation and operationalization of flexibility provided in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement for developing countries should be at the core of decision-making,” emphasized Yadav, reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on climate justice while fighting climate change.

Yadav also informed the UK delegation about the remarkable feat India has achieved in decoupling growth from emission intensity, demonstrating ambitious actions in renewable energy, energy efficiency and rise of green cover, an official said, adding, “He also conveyed India’s position that COP26 should ensure a balanced outcome with equal treatment to agenda items such as adaptation, finance and technology transfer.”

Sharma and his team were informed about the global initiatives spearheaded by India under Modi’s leadership for tackling climate change such as Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), Coalition on Coalition Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and International Solar Alliance (ISA), a government release said.

Reminding that India is among a few G20 countries on track towards UNFCCC and Paris Agreement goals and has taken decisive actions to tackle climate change, Sitharaman mentioned that India is taking concrete steps at appreciable speed to meet its commitments on the target of 450GW of renewable energy by 2030.

“Of these, 100 GW has already been achieved,” she said.

The Finance Minister also highlighted the extensive work done on the Hydrogen Energy Mission.

Sitharaman expressed hope that the commitment made by the developed countries to provide $100 billion per year to developing countries would be achieved, and sounded optimistic about a positive outcome on the new collective goals on finance in COP26.

A release from the British High Commission quoted Sharma as saying: “I leave India hopeful. I’ve had a set of very constructive discussions with ministers here and I am incredibly encouraged by the visionary speech Prime Minister Modi made on Independence Day, in particular the reference to renewables and green hydrogen.”

Claiming that countries need to be more ambitious in emission reduction targets and in accelerating the transition from coal to clean energy, Sharma said, “I’ve requested that the Indian government considers whether as part of any revised NDC, that overachievement is taken into account as well as a really ambitious plan for pushing forward on all of this.”

“When the UK took on the COP26 Presidency, less than 30 per cent of the global economy was covered by a net zero target — we’re now at 70 per cent,” he said.

COP26 is a crucial meeting in view of the Paris Agreement that India has signed along with scores of other nations.

The Paris Agreement is a global effort to cut emissions to restrict the temperature rise to 2-degree Celsius and if possible, to keep it at 1.5-degree Celsius, as compared to the pre-industrial era.

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has already warned of dire consequences in terms of increasing heat waves, erratic precipitation and sea level rise among other extremities for India and other nations.

In November the UK will host the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow in partnership with Italy. This will provide an opportunity for the world to come together and commit to urgent action.

The UK is already setting a strong example on climate action, with a legally binding target to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050.